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Tuesday, 3 July 2001, 10:38am

ArtistStella Brennan
Production Date2001-2002
Mediumneedlepoint embroidery
Size860 x 1150 mm
DepartmentNew Zealand Art
Accession Date01 Jun 2005
Accession NoC2005/1/15
Credit LineChartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 2005


Stella Brennan's stitch-per-pixel embroidery of her iMac OS 8 desktop took over a year to do, and she needed help. A sewing circle of friends and family helped her complete it. By the time it was done, it was obsolete. Brennan had a new computer, running OS X. Translating the digital into the pre-industrial, the work yokes opposing values: the computer's currency and speed with craft's traditionalism and laboriousness. The woven computer screen can be read as daft, like an expressionist painting converted into paint-by-numbers. It becomes deft when it prompts us to consider more subtle historical connections, like the use of punch cards to control Jacquard weaving looms during the industrial revolution, and Ada Lovelace's proposal to use them to programme Charles Babbage's analytical engine, the 19th century proto-computer. While its title suggests an instant, the piece enfolds time: the time taken to make it, the time taken to view it, and the stretch of technological, economic and social history from the Bayeux Tapestry through the industrial revolution to the Macintosh. (Snake Oil, 2005)


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